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<p>DUBLIN, Ireland – What happens when a credit union league’s members are furious with the league, so furious they threaten to withdraw? In Ireland they establish an independent commission to recommend solutions. In a two-day meeting June 8th and 9th at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin, 1,000 delegates from Irish credit unions met to discuss and vote on proposals that were designed to re-establish the credibility of the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU). The delegates from Ireland’s 535 credit unions were more than extremely dissatisfied with the League’s performance. Many at the meeting were from the credit unions that had threatened to leave unless some action was taken and taken quickly. A review commission had been chaired by Phil Flynn, an industrial review consultant, who has handled many similar conflicts in government and other industries. Everyone felt that the independence was mandatory to get the results necessary. The rest of the commission was also made up of credit union people who were selected by a designated panel. They offered 64 proposals for improving the league. Sixty were accepted at the meeting. Refusal to do so, the commission’s report said would result in an “increasing anachronistic and irrelevant” organization. The major changes include: a new method of funding, the replacement of the annual general meeting with a biennial delegate meeting, the reduction from 16 to 13 board members, term limits for board members, postal ballots, increased transparency, and the nomination of an implementation committee to oversee these and other changes. The implementation committee is considered crucial to the success. In the past, changes have been recommended, accepted, but not acted on, and there was the fear that this could happen again. The members of the committee have not been selected as yet, but according to Patrick Fay, who spoke with Credit Union Times, it is one of the first tasks to be accomplished. A target date of the next Annual General Meeting in April 2003 has been set for the completion of the reforms. The commission also voted to hire a Chief Executive Officer for the first time. He or she will replace the General Secretary Tony Smyth who resigned December 1, 2001. The formal reasons were never given, but ILCU had to write off a 34 million Euro ($32.1million) loss after the ISIS project collapsed. ISIS was a project that ILCU spearheaded to give a common computer network to all Irish credit unions. The failure happened during Symth’s watch. The review commission made it clear that they do not believe that ILCU should develop its own technology. O’Regan had stated even without the ISIS failure, there were tensions that would have prompted the review. There were other problems that included a loss of market share. Irish credit unions have more than 6 billion Euros (US$5.6 billion) on deposit for more than 2.5 million members. Ireland has had an active credit union movement since the mid 1960s when it was a struggling country. Now it has a “Tiger Economy” and is considered the most successful economy in the European Union. ECCO, the insurance company operated by the League, will also undergo major changes. ECCO has provided some ILCU funding and members want greater transparency. More funding will come from affiliation fees in the future when the recommendations are implemented. ILCU president John O’Regan told the group that, “United we will retain our potential and real strengths. Divided we will provide the opportunity to take our place with regressive consequences for the members.” Will the new arrangements work? At the moment only one credit union at Tullamoe Co Offaly has notified the credit union that it will officially withdraw from membership in the league in October. If O’Regan’s statement, that “The message coming across from one and all was a new beginning,” it definitely will. ILCU has a second chance. -</p> <p>[email protected]</p>

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